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Old 02-03-2009, 03:10 AM   #1
Lew Barrett
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Default Goslings Family Reserve

There may be a review and thread dedicated to this old warhorse elsewhere on the forum, but I'm going to take a crack at reviewing it, as I had my second glass of this rum tonight. I obtained a bottle six weeks ago and I'm feeling familiar enough with it to risk a short review.

I obtained this bottle of Family Reserve to help round out my education. It's little discussed here on the Ministry, and elsewhere that I can find for that matter, but carries a premium price and has a good reputation so I reckoned it was fair game to discuss.

I paid $69 for my bottle, but have seen it selling for as low as $60, and as high as $79 in the US. The packaging is attractive. The rum arrives in a wooden box with a clear plastic cover, and is nestled in a pocket of wood shavings. It has a luxury look and feel, with black wax flowing freely down the neck and onto the body of the darkly opaque frosted bottle.

In the glass, the rum is a dark reddish brown, Long, slow legs flow languidly down the glass after a swirl. The nose is unique and strong, hinting of macerated dark fruit, some muskiness with a trace of vanilla.

There is an immediate resemblance to Black Seal on first sip, with a bitter-sweet flavor that hits the tongue straight off. There are subtle hints of vanilla, but that muskiness/smokiness and dark fruits predominate. I get charred oak too, and then a long, slow finish emphasizes a pleasant, but not overly aggressive sweetness.
The rum is extremely smooth and pleasantly warming.

For me, this is not an everyday rum, and doesn't replace my other daily favorites. However, it's a bottle I am immediately glad I have for it's unique and unmistakable character. I expect I will learn more about it as I gain familiarity with it.

The thing is, it's not immediately a profile I would normally think I might enjoy, but as I work my way through the glass and the long pleasant finish lingers, on, I have to acknowledge that this is a unique and flavorful rum and it's growing on me. It's Black Seal, which I'm not over the top on, brought to a different place. If you like Black Seal, you'll love Family Reserve, because this stuff is like that, but sanded to 600 grit wet and dry with all the rough edges knocked off. If you don't dote on Black Seal, you might still like Family Reserve (that's sort of my situation; I like the former in Dark and Stormys and that's it's only use for me) but if you do like the former, I can't see how you wouldn't really like Goslings Old.

I expect some people will find the value-for-money equation a bit skewed for this product, but high end, limited production rums cost what they cost. In rum as with other luxury products, exclusivity is always obtained at a price. Some of the cost of this bottle might be explained by the fact that there are fewer of them to go around. The rest of the premium buys you an extensively aged and beautifully packaged product. Only you can decide if it is worth twice the cost of other premium rums
you might like as well. Whatever, you will not easily find another profile precisely like this one; at least, I haven't so far.

Last edited by Lew Barrett; 02-03-2009 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 03:28 AM   #2
Rum Runner Imports
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Default Price Tag?

I like Black Seal in the Dark'n'stormy and would like to try the family..but its a little pricey up here>> 98.00 a bottle (78 USD). With the next most expensive being Pyrat XO and Appleton's MBL at 89.

Might have to come down your way if the price is right...or I guess since you gave a lukewarm review I could just drink yours?
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:15 AM   #3
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Here in BC that rum is about $78-80 CDN loonies......I don't think its that much cheaper in the US although I haven't seen it down there...
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:09 AM   #4
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lew im with you all the way. I love the black seal but so far its a one dimensional rum but it might be good in other stuff I haven't tried yet. Maybe in cooking? Anyways that one dimension is dark n stormy's which it is the only rum that I use for them. As for the family reserve it is like a more ellegant black seal. I had it at a casino at our office holiday party (boss was buying so had to make it count) and although i couldn't appreciate the color with the bad casino lighting and my smell was corrupted as well I found the same smoky dried fruit taste and found it very pleasure able. Best this about the whole experience was that I found that it paired with my steak which was lightly charred perfectly. I consider the packaging the best in the industry. I know you can't judge a book by its cover by the attempt in this case shows some class.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
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I actually just picked up a bottle of this stuff last week.

My only comments in addition to the original post is that this is one of the only rums that I would call truly dry. It also has an acidic bite that tingles on the tongue, for me. And even though my login name might hint toward my bias, I most definitely detect a flavor much akin to Cruzan Black Strap in it. The taste of molasses in this rum is rivaled by few, such as Black Strap itself or Myers Dark.

I don't think this is a rum that would convert non-rummies, like Pyrat XO or Zacapa 23 might.

It's far from my favorite sipping rum, but like stated in posts above, its uniqueness is well worth having around, and definitely worth the price if you're at all serious about collecting fine rum.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:39 AM   #6
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I don't think it should be anywhere near the price as Appleton MBL as it certainly does not come close to that level. I was pretty disappointed when I first tried the Goslings, it looked so pretty. Mind you women can be like that as well.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:05 AM   #7
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The old reserve is a wonderful expression of the Gosling's family. I enjoy them all -- the gold stands out among its peers, the 151 overproof is one of my favorites with plenty of punch and lots of flavor, and the classic Black Seal owns it's own corner of my patch quilt of classics.

Recently, my wife wanted to play "guess the rum" with me and served me a small sample of an old aged rum in a tulip glass, then challenged me to name it. The rich, oaky tones and mature buttery caramel and molasses told me this bold, full-flavored rum was aged well. It took me a few minutes by the process of elimination to decide it must be Gosling's Old Reserve. The process reminded me how much I appreciate this product, keeping it for special occasions to share with those that appreciate a superior spirit.

It is rather expensive, but that's due to its rarity, I suppose. Bob has a good point about comparing it to Master Blender's Legacy, although it should be noted that he has easy access to that dreamy blend and an incredible price to boot.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:19 AM   #8
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ya, everything does have atleast one drawback and I will say it is a bit pricey. I can get it for 60US around here but might have drawbacks if it were more. The thing is its not the sort of rum you are going to drink every night of the week. It is a sip here, put it back on the shelf, take it down again when the mood hits. Im still laughing about the the rumeliers comment, so true.
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:06 PM   #9
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I edited my review to include the price I paid and a reference to how I view that in respect to value for money. I'm a guy that is frequently satisfied by a number of the $30-40 rums available here, and have even been surprisingly happy with some $10 bottles purchased as bargains, so bear that in mind. I think it's not fair to expect a $60 rum to be twice as good as $30 rum, or a $120 rum to be twice as good again as the sixty dollar bottle. It usually just doesn't work that way for anything. The last increments of perfection are always obtained with the greatest degree of effort.

In respect to Old Family Reserve, my observation is that the more mature the reviewer is in respect to his tastes in rum, the higher this rum seems to be rated. It may be a measure of my own "newbieness" that I am still trying to make up my mind.

Last edited by Lew Barrett; 02-03-2009 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:22 PM   #10
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Nice review Lew, and great comments by all. Pricey, but a great sipper. IMHO, I could not compare it to the Appleton MBL, for they are quite different. I keep Black Seal always for the Dark and Stormy, and the Gold is my favorite in tonic with lime.
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